Anne Marie Whalley | In Pursuit of Well-Rounded Education

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How do we achieve giving the same choices to study to our kids in elementary schools? I do not know about the U.S., but I can refer to what I have known in France.

We respected and trusted our teachers. Every morning we started school by “Morale of the Day.” It allowed us to understand the principles of respect for others and properties. No, it was not a religious education. It was simply of living a good everyday life.

Our teachers taught three grades together in the same classroom, were well organized and able to effectively teach all together the solid curriculum with no noise in the classroom. Everyone knew if we were disruptive, we would be called in the corner. We were not pressured to learn by physical discipline, but we had to copy 300 times what we should have done better to be respected as a good student, especially taking responsibility with doing our homework completely and turning it in each day as required.

The teacher would always try to determine the reason our homework was not on our tables the next day. We had homework every day. Why? Because the teachers could understand if we learned from his/her teaching. At the end of the school day, we had an afterschool program with our teacher who helped children to understand their homework from 4:30 p.m. (the end of the school day) to 6 p.m. All the children could study with this kind of program, and it helped the parents and the teachers. That program was not mandated and was available to all. It was there to help the kids study and understand their subjects. It worked well for everyone using it.

The parents and the teachers worked together, but since the teachers and their unions decided that the teachers will teach only a program of the subjects mandated during the school day, the “Morale of the Day” and afterschool program were eliminated from the students’ school days.

So, the teachers will not spend time to educate children on how to behave anymore, and good discipline measures were canceled. The teachers were no longer educators, but became teachers of academic courses. Everything else became parents’ responsibilities.

At that time, many families had immigrated to France without knowing the language of the country, and their children were registered in schools.

Students, teachers and parents needed to deal with this new wave of immigration. The teachers were lost in their classrooms, because now they had to teach French to children who had no idea how to use the national language mixed with children who were of French background. Instead of creating classrooms to help the new wave of migrants, and teaching them the language, the union and the government reduced the level of the French language to everyone and increased the number of pupils in classrooms. 

Without the acquisition of the proper language, the children became deficient in math and sciences. How could they understand the language proposed to them, if they did not acquire the right analytical form of language used to read it easily?

So, weakening the language made it more difficult to learn for our children.

It would have been so great to teach the right rules of the French language to children who were deficient on that subject. (I am in my 70s and I still remember the rules of my native language.)

It was so easy to say: “We are not here to educate your children; we are here to do a job in the manner the system has dictated us.”

As I was speaking to some teachers and principals of schools, I answered them numerous times: “School is mandated at a very young age; our children spend most of their days with you, and we would wish that what we teach them at home was supported at school and vice-versa.”

The law reads that if the parents do not send their children to school, they will be jailed. So, as parents, we expect our teachers to be complete educators, because the schools are also the homes of our children. 

I thought about it for a long time, and I realized that well-rounded education for our children depends also on the educations given by our teachers in a school program, and that good parents present the best possible results.

Anne Marie Whalley

Canyon Country

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